What is a Pediatrician?
When preparing for your baby’s arrival, there are many decisions that need to be made. Of those decisions, the selection of a pediatrician is one of the most important choices you will make.
Pediatricians are medical doctors who provide care exclusively for children, usually from birth up to age 21. Pediatricians have completed a minimum of four years of medical school and an additional three years of specialty training in pediatrics from an accredited program. They also must receive continuing education each year to stay abreast of the latest advances in pediatric care. As part of their extensive training, pediatricians are experienced in the physical, emotional, and social development of children.
What Does a Pediatrician Do?
Pediatricians will see your child for well-child care visits from birth to age four. After age four, your pediatrician may continue to see your child annually for checkups. A pediatrician will also evaluate, diagnose and provide medical care whenever your child is sick.
From well-child care visits to chronic illnesses and nutritional guidance, pediatricians are specially trained to care for all of your child’s health care needs. These include:
- Providing physical exams
- Monitoring developmental milestones (i.e. growth, behavior and skills)
- Diagnosing and treating illnesses, injuries and other health problems
- Working with parents to determine healthy lifestyle choices for children, such as nutrition and exercise
- Treating life-threatening childhood conditions
- Offering ongoing advice and information about child’s health, safety, nutrition and fitness needs
- Referring and collaborating with other medical specialists when additional care is required beyond a pediatrician’s expertise
Benefits of Choosing a Pediatrician
While family physicians can treat children, pediatricians are specifically trained in the unique physical, emotional and behavioral needs of infants, children, adolescence and young adults. The symptoms presented by adults are not the same as those seen in children. Therefore, by choosing a pediatrician, you are selecting a doctor who offers specialized expertise in recognizing and treating the unique health needs for a child.
Additionally, pediatricians often offer after-hour calling services for emergency questions and concerns, as well as flexible, same-day appointment times for sick visits. This is especially beneficial when your child is ill and you need to see your doctor right away.
Ultimately, pediatricians are much more than doctors; they are partners in your child’s health. From immunizations and ear infections to bedwetting, allergies, and school physicals, pediatricians offer the specialized skills to provide tailored, comprehensive treatment for child’s ever-changing physical and emotional needs.